Miscellaneous Observations

I was listening to an interview the other day on National Public Radio.  Every Friday they focus on technology and science-related features.  I caught the middle of a discussion regarding global warming.  I’m not sure who their guest was but he talked about attempting to finally convince the “science deniers” of the reality of global warming.

I thought that was an interesting moniker – science denier.  It has almost a religious ring to it, doesn’t it?  But at the time, I thought to myself that I’m not really a science denier.  I don’t argue that the earth may be heating up.  After all, scientist-types have reported for a long time now that the earth goes through periods of heating and cooling.  A tenet of my faith or understanding of the world is not that the temperature has to remain essentially constant.
But what I do doubt or deny is that we are to blame, directly, for whatever global warming may be happening.  Considering we’ve been measuring temperatures for all of a century now, and it just happens to be the century when industrialization really runs rampant, I’d say our baseline for determining the extent to which human activity is directly responsible for climate change is pretty short.  I’m not denying we could be a contributing factor, but I deny that someone can authoritatively make that claim in any sort of deductive sense.  The conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from the premises.  
I’m teaching a college course in logic at the moment, and this is one of the things we talk about – different types of arguments and their relative strength.  You can make a very good, very logical, very structurally sound argument but it might still not demand that the conclusion follows.  Yet global warming proponents tend to sound this way.  I don’t doubt that there is a broad spectrum of science deniers, ranging from those who refuse to believe anything about global warming to those who, like myself, may concede that warming is occurring but dispute whether we’re the cause of it.  Just because temperatures are rising during the one century we’ve been tracking this somewhat systematically, and it also is a century of heavy industrialization, doesn’t require that the two are inextricably linked.  
The fallacy of causality states this.  A logical fallacy might be committed by insisting that A caused B simply because A preceded B in some fashion.  Not all events are causal to one another based on when they occur.
In other news, the US House of Representatives voted today to eliminate public funding for Planned Parenthood.  I’m thrilled about this, even though it’s not a major step in the abortion battle, per se.  In some of the articles I’ve read on the results of the Pence Amendment, those who fought to keep federal funding for Planned Parenthood often argued that this was hurting an organization that provides a wide range of health services to women who might not have any other access to such services.  
It seems to me that if these services are so critical (and I don’t doubt that they are), then someone else could provide them – someone who doesn’t also provide abortions or pro-abortion counseling.  It seems like this would be a reasonable solution.  Certainly as reasonable if not more so than asking Planned Parenthood to quit providing abortion services.  That would probably require a name change at the very least, along with a fundamental shift in the organization’s ideology that I don’t see as very likely.  This form letter This form letter on the Planned Parenthood website to respond to the vote makes that pretty clear.  
But these are both legitimate options that get lost in the rhetoric.  If abortion services are as small an aspect of Planned Parenthood’s overall operational work as it claims they are, then it should be more than willing to quit offering them to focus on the more in-demand health care it can provide to women.  According to some reports, less than 2% of Planned Parenthood’s services involve abortion.  However it also seems clear that these sorts of numbers are not necessarily reliable.  
Maybe that would be a good place to start – requiring organizations that receive tax dollars to provide very accurate and comprehensive information on what goes on within them.  What a crazy idea.  I’m certainly not destined for a future career in politics!

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